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Tenant Eviction: The Do’s and Don’ts

Eviction notice on door of house with brass door knob. Fictitious address, ID, signature and 555 phone number for fictional usage.Being a successful landlord requires a variety of skills, one of which is knowing when and how to evict a tenant. Overall, knowing why you can and can’t evict a tenant lets you be a responsible and legal landlord while also protecting the rights of the tenant and keeping the relationship between the landlord and renter peaceful.

Understanding Just Cause

One of the first things all property owners should know is that eviction is a legal process that needs a court order to get rid of a tenant. When you know the legal reasons for eviction, you can follow the local, state, and federal rules that guide the relationship between a landlord and a tenant. Without good legal reasons, kicking out a roommate could lead to penalties like fines or lawsuits.

To evict a tenant, you must have what is known as “just cause.” Just cause eviction statutes require that you have a legal justification to evict the tenant, such as nonpayment of rent, property damage, or violation of the lease terms. You cannot evict a tenant unless you have just cause.

Reasons You Can Evict

Nonpayment of rent is one of the most prevalent reasons landlords evict tenants. If your renter fails to pay their rent on time, you can issue them formal notice that they have a set number of days to pay or vacate the property, as required by state law. If the tenant fails to comply, you may file for eviction. Just make sure you respect the conditions of your lease as well as any state and municipal laws that may apply.

Damage to property is another common reason to kick someone out. If your tenant has done major damage to the property that goes beyond normal wear and tear, you can give them a written notice telling them to fix the damage or leave the property. If the renter doesn’t follow the rules, you can file to get rid of them.

A roommate can also be kicked out if they break other parts of their lease. If your contract says that pets aren’t allowed, and your tenant has one, you can give them a written notice to get rid of the pet or leave the property. If the renter doesn’t follow the rules, you can file to get rid of them. All other lease terms are the same.

Reasons You Cannot Evict

Even if a renter has done something that would seem to warrant eviction, there are a few more reasons why you can’t evict. For example, you cannot remove a tenant because they have requested that you make repairs to the property or have complained about the rental unit’s circumstances. Furthermore, you cannot evict a tenant because of their race, color, religion, national origin, gender, familial situation, or disability. These protected classifications cannot lawfully be used as the reason for an eviction, and attempting to do so may result in a discrimination lawsuit.

Carrying Out an Eviction

If you find yourself in the position of having to evict a tenant, there are a few procedures you must follow. First, you must provide the tenant a written notice stating the grounds for the eviction as well as the date by which they must vacate the property. The next step is to file an eviction petition with the court and have the tenant served. If the tenant fails to appear for their court date, you may be able to secure a default judgment in your favor. Finally, if the tenant still refuses to evacuate the premises, you might have the legal authority in your area remove them.

While evicting a tenant is never easy, it is sometimes necessary. By understanding why you can (and cannot) evict a renter, as well as the stages involved in the eviction process, you’ll reduce legal risks, and promote a fair and courteous living environment for all parties involved.


If you are facing a potential eviction situation, you may want to consult a property management expert for advice. Contact your local Real Property Management office to speak to a local rental property professional today!

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